Murder at the Library of Congress

Margaret Truman, Author Random House (NY) $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-375-50068-8
The theft from a private museum in Miami of a painting by 19th-century artist Fernando Reyes of Columbus offering his book of privileges to Ferdinand and Isabella sets off the action in this latest Washington, D.C.-insider tale from Truman (Murder at the Watergate, 1998, etc.). The bulk of the novel, however, unfolds at the nation's venerated reference institution. Gallery owner and former attorney Annabel Reed-Smith was looking forward to two months of research for her lead article of a special issue of the Library of Congress publication Civilization to be devoted to Columbus. Rumors have persisted for centuries about a possible second diary of the voyage to the New World written by Bartolom de Las Casas, the explorer's confidant and friend. Annabel's work takes on greater urgency when she comes upon the dead body of pompous Las Casas expert and LC employee Michele Paul in the cubicle next to hers. Back in Miami, journalist Lucianne Huston is assigned to cover the art theft, during which a guard was killed. When she learns of Paul's murder, the reporter suspects a connection between the two crimes, as does Annabel, who discovers that another Las Casas expert disappeared about eight years ago. Meanwhile, the day-to-day operation of the Library proceeds full-tilt as Cale Broadhurst, the current Librarian, has his hands full dealing with Huston and the rest of the press, not to mention members of Congress. Truman shows readers the art theft at the start of the book, so the mystery centers around who killed Paul and how his demise is connected to the art heist. A clue to the murderer is tipped clumsily; the discovery of the killer's identity comes as something of an anticlimax, but the fun of the book is getting to it. The Library is the real star, and D.C., as always in Truman's mysteries, proves fertile ground for intrigue. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-375-40865-6
Hardcover - 528 pages - 978-0-7838-8706-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 320 pages - 978-0-449-00195-0
Open Ebook - 199 pages - 978-0-307-42229-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-375-40564-8
Paperback - 978-0-375-70789-6
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